Field shingles are the main component of your roof system and the primary protection for the inside of your home from the outside elements.  They are the part you see first when looking from the street.  Many differing types of shingles are available, from traditional asphalt, wood shake and slate/tile to the relatively newer metal, rubber and environmentally friendly plastic types.  Manufacturers are even experimenting with new green roof systems which do not have shingles at all but are instead composed of real dirt and vegetation!

Although every component of the roof system is important it’s own unique way, this product is the one that counts the most. It covers the largest amount of roof surface area. It is susceptible to the most amount of elemental weather, takes the most amount of effort to install and costs the most amount of money to purchase.

Asphalt field shingles are the most commonly used product in the Calgary marketplace. They’re economical, effective, easy to install and easy to maintain. They are covered with a regular granulized surface, basically big pieces of sand colored to your preference, and designed to keep damaging UV rays away from the oils in the asphalt.

Beneath the granules are a few layers of different materials. There is a layer of fiberglass to give the shingles some structure, a few layers of asphalt to give it a water repellent functionality and a layer of finely ground sand to give it a nonstick surface for transportation in packages and by workers installing the product.

Asphalt shingles come in a variety of different colors from black, brown, gray, green and even blue. They also come in a variety of different quality levels. Back in the old days you could buy a five-year, ten-year or even 15 year shingle. Nowadays most shingles come with a 50 year limited lifetime warranty. Whatever the manufacturer warranty your selection might be, the number correlates to the length of time which a manufacture will warranty the products from manufacturing related defects.

It is important to note that the amount of time which a manufacture warrants the products from having manufacturing related defects does not in any way represent the average lifespan of the product once installed. There is a difference between warranty on material defects versus typical, reliable average lifespans in the real world.

After years of testing, trial, and error a major manufacturer in the asphalt shingle marked called GAF, decided to change the market forever. Around 2009 they started offering a 50 year limited lifetime warranty on what used to be referred to as their thirty-year product. GAF was the first manufactured to do this and did so only after numerous years of expensive, diverse and rigorous product quality testing. Most manufacturers in response to this, decided to change the warranty of their own thirty-year products to be an equal 50 year limited lifetime warranty. This being said, and according to common industry knowledge, GAF is the only manufacturer to have engaged with, and completed the appropriate testing and general quality assurance process to actually provide such along warranty for defects.

The difference between material defect warranty and average product lifespan’s can, and has, created a lot of confusion within the marketplace. A manufacturers warranty will typically outlast the average life span of the shingles, which can allow for piece of mine that your product will most likely be covered for defects until your ready to replace them. One of the reasons why a product will not typically last as long as the warranty coverage, is due to regular elemental breakdown, depending on natural external factors surrounding your roof, such as degree of sunlight and wind.

Some asphalt shingles contain modified bitumen rubber mixed in with the asphalt base. This provides a superior impact resistant nature to the product, and typically allows the product to receive a class 4 impact rating. This class for impact rating is the ultimate rating a product can receive, and is effective for severe weather conditions such as hail. Most manufacturers who offer products to the Calgary marketplace have a shingle with a class 4 impact rating. In addition to being particularly resistant to hail damage, the product is typically of the highest caliber offered within a manufactures product line. Generally it’s the best of the best.

Other products such as metal, concrete tile, wood shakes and plastic are available from various suppliers to provide the extra designer feel to your roof system. These products are typically higher in price, more complicated to install and more expensive to maintain. Calgary’s primary supplier of concrete tile roof systems called Unicrete recently closed its doors which will inevitably result in a further decline in the use of this product on residential home construction.

Metal roofing comes generally into different styles; standing seam and tile. Standing seam metal roofing is typically reserved for commercial application, whereas tile based metal systems are used often in the residential market. In either case, metal is as metal is. It’s a strong product that lasts a long time. It comes in a variety of colors and generally fasteners in place with screws; however, it is easy to dent. Contrary to common thought it is not more prone to lightning strikes then any other roofing system. Sometimes it can be a little bit louder during a hard rainstorm or hail falling but not so much as to be a known typical problem. Most people with a metal roof installed would likely say they can hardly tell the difference overall.

Shakes were a very common roofing product in a Calgary marketplace for many years, particularly between 1960 in 2000. During this timeframe, shakes were reputed and manufactured in such a way that they had superior lifespans than any asphalt shingle in the marketplace. Due to the nature of a wood shake consisting of a wood plate, improving upon, or altering its basic structure was beyond its limits. Contrarily, the process, procedures and general manufacturing of asphalt based shingles is a man-made process and as such can be improved on overtime and through the decades. Since its original inception and invention patented by GAF in the late 1980’s, asphalt shingles have made significant improvements year-over-year, climaxing over the last 15 years, to be the most reliable and generally installed product on roofing system in Canada.

Roughly at the turn of the millennium, the general quality of asphalt shingles begin to match, and even exceed that of a wood shake roof system. It’s around this time that the average lifespan for manufacturer’s defects of shingle roof systems crept up past the 20 year mark. Since then we’ve seen average lifespans for asphalt shingles continuously increase and become more and more competitive with other products. While increasing in quality, the average price tag for an asphalt shingle has remained the same and not increase anywhere near to the proportion of its quality increase. This has resulted in a cost effective solution to a higher quality roof system for any homeowner in Canada and North America.

As a result to the increasing quality all asphalt shingles, the wood shake market has lost its grip on the title of ‘best roofing product type’. It’s still a good quality product and provides a beautiful, rugged and natural finish to a home; however, it no longer has the same practical purpose. Generally speaking people who select a wood shake roof system do so for the prestigious concept and feel that it acquired during the 20th Century.

It’s important to note that in the Calgary climate, we have particularly dry air which sucks the moisture right out of wood roof systems and results in premature cracking, curling and deterioration overall. It is for this reason that we do not recommend wood roof systems in this region and climate zone.

Rubber is a product which has been gaining market share at a rapid pace since the early 2000’s. A local manufacturer here in Calgary, called Euroshield, also commonly referred to as GEM, has made quite an impact in the Canadian residential roofing marketplace overall. Euroshield rubber roofing products offer the most hail resistant roof system that is available in today’s marketplace.

By nature of being rubber, it’s made partially with recycled materials such as tires, which reduces the overall negative environmental impact to our earth. It installs almost as easily as an asphalt shingle, which makes it available and easy to apply by most roofers. It’s slightly thicker than an asphalt shingle, which gives it a designer and somewhat prestigious feel, and its price point is much less than that of a typical metal, concrete or plastic roof system.

Overall, rubber roofing is a relatively economical solution for those who desire a designer type product combined with above average hail impact resistance.

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